New York Artist Mario Loprete: The Concrete Sculptures Were Born From my Need to Give Continuity to my Pictorial Work
“My goal is to give the user the right key to reading my work. “
Mario, give us a few words of introduction about yourself please. When did you first discover that you were creative? Paraphrasing a work by Pirandello, “we are One, Nobody and One Hundred Thousand”, in my life they have called me in many ways, but for all I would like to be simply: Mario. I have done many things and a thousand jobs, but art has always accompanied me in my daily life. As a child, even before I knew how to read, I spent hours and hours with the Marvel and Topolino comics. With imagination I created extemporaneous dialogues between characters. On the wings of fantasy, I copied the comics on any paper support I had available and then stored them in a yellow folder closed with an elastic band. For all I was the little Mario, but when I placed the contents of the yellow folder neatly on the floor, I became: Mario, the artist.
What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning? The motivations are countless if you have confused ideas. As a young man I had a list of hundred things to do during the day. Now at fifty I have few things written on a piece of paper, but of enormous importance. The main thing is to give the Force to my work. The Force in the work of an artist is the most important thing. In an artistic project, the Force is the constant, a coherent position taken by the artist that constitutes the artistic language. An artist’s career is a parable that is inevitably destined to fall. The greater the strength of the project, the softer the descent will be.
What would you say is the most rewarding thing(s) about being an artist? I love to think that one of my paintings is a space-time window that connects me with who owns it. If we stop for a moment to think about the objects that compose and furnish our houses, if we give them a soul, what would be the result? My works hanging on the walls of collectors, live the familiar intimacy of the users, without filters, without reflectors. I like to be able to think that through my work I am a silent witness to their everyday life.
How would you describe your art to someone who has never seen it? What is one effect that you would like your artwork to have on people? The artist should never describe. My goal is to give the user the right key to reading my work. How I came to produce my art. Of its evolution. Art must communicate emotions and emotions are personal. I “photograph” my historical period and this is the commitment that an artist must have. Otherwise you risk being anachronistic using an obscure artistic language and even worse incomprehensible if you use a futuristic artistic language not usable by the mass. Art is and must be for all and not for a small circle of brains that conceptually see what in the artist’s mind was not in the least contemplated. My biggest wish is that in the future anyone, through the window of a bus, walking down the street, going to school, see a painted concrete wall or a B-Boy and ideally associate them with my work.
How did your interest in hip-hop world develop and what does it mean to you? Do you practice hip-hip philosophy in your daily life or, indeed, is it purely the subject of your artistic expression? Hip hop in my art has arrived like a virus. Until 2000 I painted what I thought was beautiful to paint. With different styles and different subjects. When I was painting I listened to rap music, hip hop. Eminem, Snoop Dogg, 50Cent became viral in my pictorial gesture. The brush strokes were rhythmic and my body felt the energy of the music. The favorite subjects became the rappers, the B-boys, the Skaters… Hip hop is a philosophy of life that aggregates different cultures and is what fascinated me the most, having found a universal language.
Tell us, why did you choose concrete as your medium to work with? At a certain point in my artistic career, despite having had important acknowledgments, I felt that my work needed the Force. Traveling, visiting many cities and their suburbs, I understood the thing that unites Catanzaro, Berlin, London, Los Angeles or Vancouver: reinforced concrete.
How did you come up with an idea of creating concrete “clothes sculptures”? Is there a core philosophy or message in it? The user observes and judges the work he views. The most attentive one poses questions and the task of the artist is to give him answers. The concrete sculptures were born from my need to give continuity to my pictorial work.
What are some of the struggles you have faced mastering (developing) your concrete sculptures of clothes? Where do you get garments? How long does it typically take for you to finish a piece and what is the process (very briefly) like? For my concrete sculptures I use my personal clothes. Through artistic processes, in which I use plaster, resins and cement, I transform them into sculptures to hang. My memory, my DNA, my memories remain cemented within, transforming the person who looks at the works into a kind of post-modern archaeologist who studies finds of urban archeology.
Did you ever have doubts about choosing your life as an artist? I have always had doubts and I will always have… Who has no doubts, who feels at the top, who no longer has the curiosity to experiment, is no longer an artist and maybe never has been.
What do you feel or think of when you are painting a portrait? How do you choose an object and what do you hope people take away from viewing your portraits on concrete? Making a portrait is the hardest part of my job. I like painting people I do not know, trying to capture the message that they communicate to me and amplify it with painting. When a portrait is commissioned I enter “extreme challenge mode”. We already have doubts in recognizing when we look at the pictures taken by us or by friends, if we do not look at a picture but a painting that represents us the discomfort is even worse. When I paint My subjects, I decide when the painting is finished, when I can completely communicate what I want. On the contrary, when I have to make the adjustments that the buyer considers opportune, I create cold paintings that are difficult for me to communicate emotions.
In your opinion, what are some noteworthy highlights you have experienced in your career history? The absolute best thing to be Mario Loprete Artist is when with international collectors I trade my work with residences for myself and my family. I feel like a real globetrotter who “pays” his journeys with his art.
It is easy to sell a painting and with the proceeds to pay for airline tickets and hotels. But receiving everything by bartering it with art is much more rewarding for me
What was the best advice ever given to you as an artist? A professor of the academy of fine arts, seeing me discouraged because I could not paint well a foot, put a hand on my shoulder and told me: Treat your work as Michelangelo treated his. If you want others to respect your work, you have to be the first to respect and enhance it to the maximum, never be satisfied and always improve…
What fuels your imagination and provides you with inspiration? How do you like to recharge your creative side? To travel. Traveling to enrich oneself culturally, absorbing the peculiarities of each nation is important for an artist who aspires to become an international artist. The sounds, the smells, the music, the architectures enter you inside and turn into tactile memory to be transferred in your work
What environment you like to work in and what is your New York studio like? My studio is perfect, everything in its right place, clean and tidy. I enjoy it all day that I spent to make it perfect. But then a mischievous elf takes over from me and that loves to work in chaos, in the anger of not finding things, in the frustration of finding that new tube of color I had bought the day before because I thought it was over. My studio in New York is in my dreams, because I believe it is the international consecration of my work. For the moment, I enjoy the studio where I work only 10 hours from New York.
You have a vast list of exhibitions in your portfolio. Congratulations! From your experience, what could you advice young artist dreaming to exhibit his/her works to bigger audience? Anything important or practical in regard to working on exhibiting your art? The first thing I recommend is to have a permanent job. There are few people who live well doing only the artists. At the beginning of one’s career nobody lives by art alone. Having economic emancipation is very important. You can research and experiment without having to compromise with the market and with those who manage the market. The motto is: work to live and make art to dream. Then when one has the certainty that one’s art allows us to live well, give up everything and continue to produce with the independence that has distinguished the artistic carrier.
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions in 2018 where clients can view your work? June 2018 – Solo show in Dadada Beach Museum, curated by Roberto Talarico ,in Montauro, Italy.
September 2018 – Solo show in Atelier Carlo Tozzi in Amsterdam, curated by Carlo Tozzi.
April 2019 Solo show in Complesso Monumentale San Giovanni in Catanzaro with collaboration of Ivan Cardamone.
September 2019 Solo Show in Reggia di Caserta, curated by Vincenzo Mazzarella.
What are some of your favorite art world hangout spots? Do you go to a lot of openings, museums and galleries? I love traveling a lot and I have many places in my heart that have marked me deeply. If I had to choose a single place I would choose Amsterdam, a multi-ethnic city, with a very high concentration of refined and cultured collectors, and who owns the artist’s museum that most of all embodies the inner drama that every artist has: Vincent Van Gogh. The first time I visited, I was scolded by my wife very worrying because I had remained motionless 45 minutes in front of a self-portrait. A fantastic sensory experience, a hallucinatory journey inside a tormented man, capable as few in handing the Work Force. I do not like going to the vernissages of the exhibitions. I like to visit the exhibitions when there is nobody, I taste the works with the right atmosphere: Silence.
Did you feel a lack of something as artist along your creative path? In other words, what difficulties did you experience as an independent artist all the way to where are you now? I believe that the greatest difficulty I had in my creative journey and that I still have is the lack of an important reference gallery. An important international gallery that had taken my job by the hand and together we would have grown up. With pride and pride I can affirm that all I have done in life, I have done it only with my strength alone, my stubbornness and my stubbornness.
What are the five words that people who know you would use to describe you? Stubborn, stubborn, stubborn, stubborn and… surely stubborn.
What are the things in your life that you are most grateful for? Francis. A wonderful boy of 15 years, that every man would like to have as a child, but life wanted to give it to me.
What is something you have always wanted to try? Barter my art with travel. Spending money on buying travel is more or less within everyone’s reach. But to trade my works with collectors who give me in exchange the sensory experience of a trip is exceptional. When I paint the jobs that are destined for these projects I am happy. I work with the knowledge that I do not receive money in return, but the experience of visiting a new city and sharing this experience with my family. It is wonderful
If you could say something to everyone on the planet, what would it be? Thanks to all the people who believed in me and who allowed me to have my own image on the cover of FORBES magazine in the September 2068, which celebrates the 100 birthdays of the richest and most influential living artists in the world.